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Voland v. Corizon Correctional Medical Corp.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

October 2, 2017

JERRY VOLAND, Plaintiff,


William C. Griesbach, Chief Judge. [*]

         Plaintiff Jerry Voland, who is incarcerated at New Castle Correctional Facility, filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his civil rights were violated. This matter comes before the court on the plaintiff's petition for leave to proceed without prepaying the full filing fee.

         Plaintiff is required to pay the $350.00 statutory filing fee for this action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). If a prisoner does not have the money to pay the filing fee, he can request leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Plaintiff has filed a certified copy of his prison trust account statement for the six-month period immediately preceding the filing fee of his complaint, as required under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2), and has been assessed and paid an initial partial filing fee of $27.54. Thus, Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted.

         The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally “frivolous or malicious, ” that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Hutchinson ex rel. Baker v. Spink, 126 F.3d 895, 900 (7th Cir. 1997).

         To state a cognizable claim under the federal notice pleading system, the plaintiff is required to provide a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that [he] is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). It is not necessary for the plaintiff to plead specific facts and his statement need only “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). However, a complaint that offers “labels and conclusions” or “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         The court accepts the factual allegations as true and liberally construes them in the plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 651 (7th Cir. 2013). The complaint must contain sufficient factual matter “that is plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Furthermore, the complaint's allegations “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted). The court is obliged to give the plaintiff's pro se allegations, “however inartfully pleaded, ” a liberal construction. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).

         In considering whether a complaint states a claim, courts should follow the principles set forth in Twombly by first, “identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Legal conclusions must be supported by factual allegations. Id. If there are well-pleaded factual allegations, the court must, second, “assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Id.


         It appears from the complaint that Voland is attempting to allege violations of his First and Eighth Amendment rights. According to Voland, he was assaulted on August 21, 2015, and required medical attention. He reported the assault on the day it occurred, and he filed a medical request the following day, August 22, 2015. He also alleges that he continued to complain of his injuries to correctional and medical staff from August 26, 2015, and onward, but that they disregarded his complaints and request for medical attention. Specifically, he alleges that he reported the matter on September 8, September 26, and October 6, 2015, and received no response. On October 15, 2015, Voland filed a formal grievance. Lastly, Voland complains generically of pain in his neck, left arm, hand, and fingers; however, Voland does not allege the source of this pain or whether it was caused by the alleged attack. He also complains of a pinched nerve. Based upon these allegations, Voland claims that the correctional and medical staff were deliberately indifferent to his medical complaints and that their inaction was in retaliation for his previously filed medical complaints.


         In order to state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that: (1) he was deprived of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States and (2) the deprivation was visited upon him by a person or persons acting under color of state law. Buchanan-Moore v. Cty. of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Kramer v. Vill. of N. Fond du Lac, 384 F.3d 856, 861 (7th Cir. 2004)); see also Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980). Voland alleges that nine different defendants violated his First and Eighth Amendment rights. For ease of understanding, the court will address similar claims together. First, the court will address the claims against the Corizon Correctional Medical Corporation (“Corizon”) staff, who provide medical services to the New Castle Correctional Facility. Next, the court will address the claim directly against Corizon. Then, the court will address the claims based on a supervisory liability theory against Defendants Lemmon, Butts, and Miller. Lastly, the court will address the claim against Defendant Smith.

         I. Eighth Amendment Claim Against the Corizon Defendants

         Voland alleges that Defendants Nurse Mcnew, Nurse Practioner Dawson, Nurse Mullins, Doctor Loveridge, and Doctor Epple, who are all Corizon staff, did not provide required medical care in the form of diagnosis and treatment, in violation of the Eighth Amendments. The Eighth Amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments” and imposes a duty on prison officials to take reasonable measures to ensure that the inmate receives adequate medical care. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 823, 832 (1994). Prison officials violate the Constitution if they are deliberately indifferent to an inmate's serious medical needs. Id. (citing Estelle, 429 U.S. at 103).

         To demonstrate deliberate indifference, a plaintiff must show “actual knowledge by the officials and guards of the existence of the substantial risk and that the officials had considered the possibility that the risk could cause serious harm.” Washington v. LaPorte Cty. Sheriff's Dept., 306 F.3d 515, 518 (7th Cir. 2002) (citing Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834). Stating this another way, a plaintiff must demonstrate that he had an objectively serious medical condition and that the defendants were subjectively aware of and consciously disregarded that condition. Id. at 837. A medical need is considered sufficiently serious if the inmate's condition “has been diagnosed by a physician mandating treatment or . . . is so obvious that even a lay person would perceive the need for a doctor's attention.” Roe v. Elyea, 631 F.3d 843, 857 (7th Cir. 2011) (citations omitted). Ordinary negligence by prison officials, ...

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